Book Binding; Book Making; I’m Making A Book!

I have been trying to wait out writing this particular posting, but today decided to hell with it; I can’t wait another minute! I’ll just write another one when I get the goods. So here goes…

It was the summer of 1999. My Freshman year at the George Washington University had just ended and I went home to Cleveland, Ohio to well, do nothing, but see friends and work at the Papyrus at Beachwood Mall. It was that summer that I decided I was going to MAKE a real scrap book. One that included cardboard and wrapping paper and tie it together with ribbon.

I had never made a book before. Well, I’m not including the make your own story book in the fourth grade where I used construction paper, glue and printing paper to draw pictures on.

This was a REAL book and I was going to somehow bind the book together with Organza ribbon and a needle.

I don’t remember all the details of making this book, now, 12 years later, but over the Christmas holiday, I found the scrap book sitting in a bin of my books and I immediately felt at peace.  You know that feeling when you just know that what you’re doing is so right? Or in the words of my aunt over the weekend, as told to me by mother, “Your daughter has been making cards since she was a little girl.” My aunt sent me a text message over the weekend telling me she found a card I had made in the 80s. I was probably five or six years old at the time.  I have asked for a picture and am waiting. When I get it, I will share.

I don’t know what possessed me at the time, but I did not take pictures nor did I bring the book back with me to NYC. And so, much like the card my aunt texted me about, I am waiting for my mom to mail me the book. Which means, you all have to wait to see what I’m talking about. Sorry!

More importantly, what really struck me about the book was that for someone who had never made a book before, it is pretty. It’s nice. It doesn’t look like a professional made it, but it doesn’t look like a hobbiest did either. Maybe I’m just biased. You’ll see when I post photos.

Anyhow, I share this story about book making and binding because I decided to make my first ever “look book” this year. 

What is a “look book”?

Well, it’s not a portfolio and it most definitely is not a scrap book. It is a booklet that I’m making to send to a stationery shop in MD that I’d like to sell my invitations.  You know exactly what I’m talking about – the books you flip through when you got to Papyrus or any other large stationery store to buy invitations.   The thing is, my book, won’t be a binder, will be hand made, and will have limited options. There will be one for stationery and one for invitations.  There may actually be many for invitations, but at this point, there will only be one for weddings.

By limited options, I am going to offer invitations with the following options:

  • hand made paper (from around the world) for envelope linings, back grounds, booklets, covers, and wraps.
  • A series of fonts customers can choose from
  • Pricing for additional pieces like RSVP, accommodation, and direction cards.

Customers who want personalized and custom designs can still contact me, but they will have to pay a different rate for that process. With this “look book”, customers are limited to what is offered in the book. There won’t be any custom design fees, just a simple layout charge and then the price for supplies, printing, and assembly work done by me.  Awesome, si?

I am so excited about this. So very excited! And mostly excited because last night and this morning, I sat on my floor with my cardboard box and started making my book. It has three sides with the left and right sides collapsing on top of each other. I’ve added some ribbon and I’m using my gorgeous and expensive paper that I bought in Paris last spring.  As I sat covered in pulp and glue this morning, I laughed at how it has taken me a year to make this happen and yet, it is happening.

This morning, I also noted how back in my high school days, I had wanted to take an art class called “Book Binding”. The course got canceled and I was put into ceramics, which I loved, but I wonder how might my life be different now if I had actually be able to take the book binding course. Would I have gone to art school instead?

Wondering about the past is of course futile, I am where I am for a reason and I am happy, but there is just something about making a book that makes me think about who I was 12 and 15 years ago.  A girl with no idea that this would end up being her life passion.

Anyhow, I’m sharing some early stage photos of my “look book” process. Please know that I’m hardly a book binding/making professional. I am working based on my intuition, design knowledge, and from watching my mom sew things as a child.  I hope that one day I can take some book making/binding classes and learn the techniques and skills behind the crafts. But as I know all too well, sometimes you have to take the first steps and well, then everything falls into place.

Ahhhhh, I’m making my second book, ever!  You can expect a follow up with finished result photos and photos of the first book sometime in the next three or four weeks.

Any types, or comments you may have about book making or binding, please leave below.


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S2 Stationery & Design

A rule-breaking designer, artist & entrepreneur who's passionate about paper and handcrafting stationery. I also write, travel, and focus on eco + social good.

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